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Rossie Priory


The 19th-century parkland at Rossie Priory is now mostly farmed but contains several sites of historic interest, woodland walks and a lake. There is remnant parkland near the house and one of the oldest cricket pitches in Scotland. Gardens, including an arboretum, were established in the 19th century, and have been added to since. There is a walled garden, a water garden, a terrace garden and the remains of a 19th-century topiary garden which is now a grassed area surrounded by yew hedges. The house is now let out for private and corporate house parties.

The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Location and Setting

Rossie Priory is situated on the Braes of the Carse, approximately 10 km (6 miles) to the west of Dundee. The A85(T) forms the southern boundary of the policies, beyond which lie the flat lands of the Carse of Gowrie on the shores of the Firth of Tay. The 'Black Land' is the familiar local term for the underlying dark clay loam soil of the area on which Rossie Priory stands. The setting of the policies on the south-facing slope of Rossie Hill (173m, 568 ft) provides fine views out to the south across the Firth of Tay to the Ochil and Lomond Hills in Fife. Features of the designed landscape, particularly the woods, are significant in the local landscape as seen from the A85(T).

Rossie Priory is situated in a sheltered position in the lee of Rossie Hill overlooking the parkland which extends south to the A85(T). To the west, the policies extend to the B953, and to the north and east, they extend to a minor road beyond the woodlands which flank the Knap Burn. The policies are enclosed by a boundary wall of some 9.5 km (6 miles) in length. In recent years, the A85(T) has cut through the south-western tip of the policies in order to bypass the settlement at Inchture. Documentary map evidence of the historical development of the policies is provided by General Roy's map of c.1750, the 1st edition OS map of 1863 and the 2nd edition OS map of 1900, comparison of which shows little change to have occurred to the structure of the designed landscape since the early 19th century.

There are several water features: the natural features of the Baledgarno Burn and Knap Burn (on either side of Rossie Hill) have been incorporated into the woodlands on the perimeter of the policies. Two curling ponds are sited on the brow of Rossie Hill, strategically placed so that when the temperature had dropped sufficiently to cause the ponds to freeze, a fire was lit which could be seen for some distance, inviting the estate workers to curl. Between 1863 and c.1900, Rossie Lake was created in the south-west corner of the policies. The policies today include some 413 ha (1021 acres).

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Rossie Priory, listed category B, was built c.1807 to the design of William Atkinson in Regency Gothic style. Additions made between 1839-40 and 1865-66 are thought to have been part of the original design although not immediately carried out. Most of the house was demolished and alterations were made in 1949 by Sir Basil Spence. The remaining terrace has been ornamented with urns. Old Rossie Chapel, listed category A, is a medieval building, abandoned in 1670. It was rebuilt c.1870 to the designs of T.S. Robertson and it is sited to the east of Rossie Priory.

Nearby, in the park, stands the Market Cross of the old village of Rossie; listed category A, it is a Scheduled Monument, dated 1746. The Cottages of Baledgarno, dating from 1840, near the west drive, are listed B for the group. Moncur Castle is a late 16th Century castle, now a ruin within the Rossie policies; it is listed B. Several lodges are indicated on the 1st edition OS map of 1863 and the same number of the 2nd edtion map of c.1900 although Middle Lodge, between Moncur Lodge and East Lodge, had gone and South Lodge had been added between times.

A fountain stands in the topiary garden to the east of the walled garden. It is thought to be that marked on the 1st edition OS map of 1863. Grand 18th century wrought- iron gates form the entrance to the top terrace walk of the walled gardens.


The parkland extends across the flatter Carse lands between Rossie Hill and the A85(T). The Moncur and Rossie Burns flow through the south park and join to form the Huntly Burn before flowing south to join the River Tay.

The parks contain several sites of historic interest; the remains of Moncur Castle are noted on both the 1st & 2nd edition OS maps lying to the east of Rossie Lake. Castlehill on the west boundary marks the site of Edgar Castle, and the Market Cross to the south of Rossie Church marks the site of the old village of Rossie. Drimmie House, the family home until c.1800, was sited in the park to the north of the East Lodge.

Several drives sweep through the parks in their approach to the house. Of these, the east drive provides a view of the house. Two drives indicated on the 1st edition OS map which entered from Moncur Lodge and Middle Lodge and joined the east drive at mid-way to the house, had gone by the time of the 2nd edition OS survey. A drive runs from the house to the village of Baledgarno and another passes to the north of the walled garden and up to the West Lodge. The south drive was cut off in the course of recent A85(T) improvements.

The parks are farmed at present with the exception of a small stretch immediately to the south of the house where the cricket pitch lies, one of the oldest in Scotland. A few individual parkland trees and clumps remain in this area. Elsewhere, trees are mainly confined to the drives and field boundaries. Species are mixed deciduous, many dating from c.1900. The west avenue is flanked by fine lime trees, whilst oak and ash of similar age, c.85 years, flank the drive to Baledgarno.


The largest area of woodland at Rossie Priory covers Rossie Hill, which is of mixed coniferous and deciduous species. Other woodlands of a similar nature are established in the Knap Den, Rossie Den, Baledgarno Den and, on either side of the east drive, as far as Rossie Burn. All were established by 1863 although many individual trees post-date this time.

The woodland on the western side of the south drive was extended to enclose Rossie Lake which was created between 1863 and c.1900, and a belt of conifers has recently been planted along the east side of the south drive. Lombardy poplars have recently been planted along the park edge of some areas of woodland. The largest Wych Elm in Scotland, located at Rossie Priory, was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records; this tree has died recently from Dutch Elm disease.

Woodland Garden

The woodland garden is located between the house and the walled garden on a series of terraces laid out to accommodate the slope of Rossie Hill. The paths are shown on the 1st edition OS of 1863 and the age of some trees would indicate that the planting was first established on the site at the time when the house was built. An extensive arboretum was established in the 1860s and this extended to the south of the walled garden. Records were kept of the initial planting but these have since been lost. Measurements of some of the trees were made by Alan Mitchell in 1975 and again in 1985, comparison of which indicates the growth rate where this has occurred (some trees appear to have the same dimensions). Some trees appear for the first time on the list whilst others have been omitted, possibly indicating their loss during the period between 1970-85.

Within the canopy of the woodland garden, an area has been cleared of invasive and a new garden has been created. The original paths were traced and the area has been planted with various Rhododendron, both species and hybrids, with the help of Peter Cox from nearby Glendoick.

The Gardens

There are three areas of ornamental garden: the Terrace Garden, the Topiary Garden and the Water Garden.

The Terrace Garden is situated along the south front of the house, created within the last ten years on the site of part of the house which was demolished between 1946-49. It contains a variety of flowering shrubs, roses and herbaceous plants and provides an attractive setting to the house.

The Topiary Garden is situated within the woodland garden to the east of the walled garden. It appears to be indicated on the 1st edition OS map of 1863. Enclosed by clipped yew hedges, it is terraced to accommodate the slope and each terrace is linked by central stone steps. The garden was laid out with rose beds until World War II when the whole garden, including the paths, was grassed over. The main grassed path from the house (to the walled garden) runs through the centre of the Topiary Garden. On approaching from the east, the clipped yew arches of the garden frame the vista which centres on the fountain of the Water Garden beyond.

This garden was laid out in the Victorian period and, whilst the centre feature of the fountain has remained, the planting has changed over the years. There are no records as to the type of planting originally adopted but, by c.1945, it was predominantly ferns. Since 1970 Lady Kinnaird has added many moisture-loving plants and has created a most attractive water garden. Other planting includes Meconopsis and Primula, alongside varieties of Japanese maples.

Walled Garden

The walled garden extends over three tiered enclosed areas. The top and lower walled gardens are separated by a narrow enclosed strip where vegetables are now grown for the house. The garden as a whole was run as a market garden until five years ago. The lowest garden is now grassed. The top garden is sub-divided by a wall which runs west/east. The garden to the north of this wall is maintained; extensive shrub borders flank the path which runs west/east along the north side of the garden terminating at each end at the large ornamental wrought-iron gates. Cut flowers are grown commercially for the Dundee area. Peaches are grown on the wall where glasshouses used to stand. The east glasshouse was removed about 40 years ago. Of those which remain, sited on the north side of the garden wall set into the slope on the hill, one is heated and houses a number of interesting plants including Lapageria rosea.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

The garden and grounds are only open to those using the Priory as a venue for private or corporate house parties. For details see:


The following is from the Historic Environment Scotland Gardens and Designed Landscapes Inventory. For the most up-to-date Inventory entry, please visit the Historic Environment Scotland website:

Reason for Inclusion

An outstanding designed landscape on many counts. It has a long historical association with the Kinnaird family, and the gardens, policies, wildlife habitats and architectural elements comprise a designed landscape of high impact in the local scenery.

Site History

The designed landscape of Rossie Priory was laid out between 1800-1833. Further improvements were made within this structure between 1887 and World War II and up to the present time.

Earliest records of the family go back to 1170 when the Barony of Kinnaird was given to Radulphus Rufus by William the Lyon. A descendant, Reginald de Kinnaird, married Marjory, daughter and heiress of Sir John Kirkcaldy of Inchture, and acquired the lands on which Rossie Priory is sited. George Patrick Kinnaird was knighted by Charles II (1660-85) for his loyalty to the Stuart Kings and the honour was elevated to that of Baron Kinnaird of Inchture in 1682. Moncur Castle, built in the late 16th century, was an earlier home of the Kinnairds and, by 1750, the family seat was Drimmie House, the site of which is close by what is now the East Lodge of Rossie Priory. Reference to General Roy's map of 1750 indicates the relationship of the designed landscape of Drimmie with the village of Longforgan to the east, Castle Lyon to the south, and the settlement of Moncur to the west, all linked by avenues.

The 7th Baron succeeded in 1767 and he is thought to have consulted Thomas White c.1786 with regard to improvements to the policies although it is not thought that the advice was taken. In the early 1800s, a new house was commissioned to be built to the north of Drimmie which would then be demolished. The 8th Baron inherited on his father's death in 1805 and continued the plans. The house was completed by W. Atkinson in 1807 and was known as Rossie Priory although there is no known monastic connection; J.P. Neale is recorded as noting that the name was adopted due to the style of architecture of the building. Drimmie House was then demolished.

The 9th Baron succeeded in 1826 and he was responsible for further phases of work to the house. The 11th Baron, who succeeded in 1887, was mainly responsible for the establishment of the arboretum to the west of the house. Further planting was carried out by his son, the 12th Baron, who succeeded in 1923 and his major influence was in agriculture and woodland management. He reduced the size of the house by demolishing part of the south front. The remaining foundations were used to create an attractive garden by the present Lady Kinnaird after Lord Kinnaird inherited the property in 1970. Lady Kinnaird is a keen gardener who has influenced many improvements as well as continuing the gardens laid out by her predecessors, despite necessary post-war cutbacks in resources.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Historic Environment Scotland An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland

  • Scheduled Ancient Monument

  • Reference: Market Cross


  • House (featured building)
  • Description: Rossie Priory, listed category B, was built c.1807 to the design of William Atkinson in Regency Gothic style. Additions made between 1839-40 and 1865-66 are thought to have been part of the original design although not immediately carried out. Most of the house was demolished and alterations were made in 1949 by Sir Basil Spence.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Ruin
  • Description: The ruins of the 16th-century Moncur Castle.
  • Fountain
  • Gate
  • Description: Wrought-iron gates at the entrance to the top terrace walk in the walled garden.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Kitchen Garden
  • Description: The walled garden.
  • Terrace
  • Lawn
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential





Open to the public





  • Historic Scotland